By SFC Lauren KostoffJanuary 9, 2009
SFC Lauren Kostoff is an active duty Soldier with the 49th Missile Defense BN. He lives near Delta Junction, Alaska and is stationed at Fort Greely, Alaska, where he performs the duty of BN Property Book Custodian and BN Supply NCOIC. He was selected by NGB Sports office to represent the USA National Guard Biathlon Program to compete in both the 2008 Argentine International Mountain Troop Competition August 10-17, 2008 and at the Military Ski Biathlon International Championship in Portillo, Chile, August 25-29, 2008.
While in South America, the team was underneath Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas and the highest mountain outside of Asia at approximately 22,841 feet. On the Argentine side, the team stayed in the city of Bariloche at the Argentine Military Mountain School. They competed at a biathlon venue about a 40 minute drive above the city and into the Patagonia Mountains.
On the other side of the border, in Chile, the team stayed and competed at the Chile Military Mountain School near the ski resort area of Portella, just west of the Argentine border. The trip up to Portella from the Santiago Airport was phenomenal, traveling through endless mountain tunnels, cutting into mountain passes, over or under snow avalanche shoots, and then even further up through a maze of 36 continuous switchbacks up to 9,600 feet.
The winter biathlon events consisted of a 10K Biathlon Sprint, 20-kilometer individual biathlon race, 15K XC Ski Race, and a Team 25K Patrol race. The weather was very wintery at both of the locations along with a couple of white out blizzards, to make for very challenging shooting and skiing conditions.
Kostoff has competed nationally and internationally in the sport of winter Biathlon since 1991: last December in the NORAM Cup Canmore AB and the Western Regional's at West Yellowstone, Montana, last March in Germany at the Ruhpolding Biathlon Center, at the CNGB Nationals in Minnesota, and two years before that in Spain.
Kostoff's next goal is to make the USA all Masters Biathlon over-45 team to further compete in the world Masters Biathlon Championships to be held in Finland next March. The purpose of sending Biathletes to the two trips to South America is actually to build and improve military friendship and relations with foreign militaries through the sport of Biathlon (cross country skiing and shooting).
Many other countries are invited to compete but only Argentine, Chile, Spain, Brazil, and USA had sent teams to compete at this time. Kostoff's greatest passion is for cross country skiing. He truly appreciates every given opportunity to help promote the great sport of Winter Biathlon. He is also very proud of the fact that he represents his unit at Fort Greely, Alaska.